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Whalen, Philip

  • Person
  • 1935-

Philip Whalen (20 October 1923 26 June 2002) was an American poet, Zen Buddhist, and a key figure in the San Francisco Renaissance and the Beat Generation. Born in Portland, Oregon, Whalen served in the US Army Air Forces during World War II, after which he attended Reed College on the GI Bill. There, he met Gary Snyder and Lew Welch, and graduated with a BA in 1951. He read at the famous Six Gallery reading in 1955 that marked the launch of the West Coast Beats into the public eye. Whalen's first interest in Eastern religions centered on Vedanta. Tibetan Buddhism also attracted him but, ultimately, Zen became his chosen path. Whalen spent 1966 and 1967 in Kyoto, Japan where he practiced zazen daily, and wrote some forty poems and a second novel. He moved into the San Francisco Zen Center and became a student of Zentatsu Richard Baker in 1972. The following year, he became a monk. He became head monk of Dharma Sangha, in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1984. In 1987, he received transmission from Baker, and in 1991, he returned to San Francisco to lead the Hartford Street Zen Center until forced by ill health to retire.

Widen, Alex

  • Person

Alex Widen was a letterpress printer in Vancouver, BC.

Wieners, John

  • Person
  • 1934-2002

John Wieners (6 January 1934 1 March 2002) was an American lyric poet. Born in Milton, Massachusetts, he attended Boston College and then Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he studied under Charles Olson and Robert Duncan. From 1958 to 1960 Wieners lived in San Francisco, California and actively participated in the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance. His first book, The Hotel Wentley Poems, was published in 1958. Wieners returned to Boston in 1960 and was institutionalized for a time. In 1961 he moved to New York City but returned to Boston in 1963. His second book, Ace of Pentacles, was published in 1964. In 1965, he enrolled in the Graduate Program at SUNY Buffalo. He worked as a teaching fellow under Charles Olson, then as an endowed Chair of Poetics, staying until 1967, with Pressed Wafer coming out the same year. In the spring of 1969, Wieners was again institutionalized, and wrote Asylum Poems. Nerves was released in 1970, containing work from 1966 to 1970. In the early 1970s, Wieners became active in education and publishing cooperatives, political action committees, and the gay liberation movement. He also moved into an apartment at 44 Joy Street on Beacon Hill, where he lived for the next thirty years. In 1975, Behind the State Capitol or Cincinnati Pike was published. For the next ten years, he published rarely and remained largely out of the public eye. Black Sparrow Press released two collections, Selected Poems: 1958-1984 and Cultural Affairs in Boston, in 1986 and 1988 respectively. A previously unpublished journal by Wieners came out in 1996, entitled The Journal of John Wieners is to be called 707 Scott Street for Billie Holliday 1959, documenting his life in San Francisco around the time of The Hotel Wentley Poems. Wieners died on March 1, 2002 in Boston. Kidnap Notes Next, a collection of poems and journal entries, was published posthumously in 2002, and A Book of Prophecies in 2007.

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